Thoddoo island in the Maldives is a gorgeous public island – from snorkeling to day trips, it’s full of activities. However, one of the most impressive things you can witness here is the bioluminescent plankton.
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Why you should visit Thoddoo island
- It’s cheap – it’s a public island, not a private resort, so the hotels are very reasonably priced.
- It’s large – much larger than most of the islands in the Maldives. It takes about 30 minutes to walk from one side to the other.
- It’s the Maldives’ farming island – there are plenty of fruits and vegetables readily available.
- There are lots of activities – from snorkeling, resort day trips to different restaurants, there are a lot of things to experience
- There’s a bikini beach – as the Maldives are a muslim country, you cannot freely sunbathe in a bathing suit everywhere on the island. However, Thoddoo island has two bikini beaches where this is allowed.
- There are a couple of supermarkets on the island, as well as a pharmacy and a small clinic. Unlike other islands in the Maldives, you have all you need here!
- They even have an ATM on the island, but be careful as some banks can charge you high fees for using it.
When to visit Thoddoo island
Thoddoo Island in the Maldives beckons with unparalleled beauty and unique experiences. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to when you should visit— it depends on what you seek. If you crave serenity amidst turquoise waters and pristine beaches, visit during the high season – dry northeast monsoon season (December to March). For vibrant marine life encounters, plan your trip from May to November when the southwest monsoon prevails. However, do remember that the low season (May to November) also brings tropical storms. But hey, at least the prices are lower! 😁
How to get to Thoddoo island from Male airport
In order to get to Thoddoo island from Male airport, you need to take a speedboat. Most hotels have airport transfer, the usual price is $35 each way per person and the ride takes 1 hour 20 minutes. There are two transfers per day – 10:30/11:00 and 16:00 o’clock. The transfers from Thoddoo to Male airport are at 07:00 and 13:00.
Ask your hotel about the transfer beforehand and they will reserve a spot for you, send a concierge to meet and help you with the bags, and tell you even more details.
Where to stay in Thoddoo
There are over 50 properties you can stay in Thoddoo island, but naturally not all will be available, especially if you book last-minute. Here are a few of the most popular ones:
- Most reviewed hotel – Evila-Inn Thoddoo – Booking.com rating: 9.3, Price per night: $81
- Most affordable hotel – Sunset Garden – Booking.com rating: 8.5, Price per night: $77
- Luxury hotel – Relax villa – Booking.com rating: 9.7, Price per night: $215
- Our pick – Jeym Lodge – Booking.com rating: 9.4, Price per night: $140
Things to do in Thoddoo island
1. See the bioluminescent plankton at 4 am
My all-time favorite thing to do in Thoddoo island really is seeing the bioluminescence. There’s nothing like it, it’s indescribable and no photo can do it justice. I honestly thought that all those photos were somehow photoshopped before seeing this with my own eyes.
Besides travel blogging, another one of my passions is astrophotography. Our first evening at the island, we went to the Sunset Guest beach and had food delivered (check out which restaurant at point 11). We started seeing some spots of bioluminescence and it was incredibly exciting! However, I went later at night to photograph the Milky way (around 3-4 am) and found an absolutely stunning spectacle of this wonder of nature. I could hardly believe my eyes!
Here’s how the plankton looked at around 9 pm:
Of course, bioluminescence has some seasonality and you always do need a little bit of luck in order to see it (we managed to see it in the end of January). In addition, I could only spot it at this exact beach – Sunset Guest beach. I went to the other side of the island one night and there wasn’t any bioluminescence. You also must know that there should be movement in the water in order for the plankton to be “activated”. Go in and swim with it – it’s truly unforgettable.
Thus, yes, it is absolutely worth it to spoil your vacation’s good night sleep in order to see this plankton. Don’t miss it!
2. See the night sky
Most of us live in large cities nowadays where it’s impossible to see the starry skies from our houses or apartments. The Maldives are perfect for stargazing – just wait a couple of hours after sunset, take a towel and lay down on a beach to enjoy the thousands of visible stars. Of course, you’d need to pick a night with no Moon, so check when the Moon rises and sets for the best experience. In January and February around 3-4 am you can spot some constellations that are invisible in the Northern Hemisphere – as the Southern Cross, and the closest star to our solar system – Alpha Centauri.
3. Swim in the turquoise waters of one of the two bikini beaches
Alright, let’s get to why we’re in the Maldives – sunbathing and swimming. As the Maldives are muslim, you need to respect their rules and customs and wear appropriate clothes – skirts below the knee, no cleavage or bare shoulders around town and on most beaches.
There are two bikini beaches in Thoddoo – a Northeast one (called “I love Thoddoo” on the map) and a West one (“Sunset guest beach”). They both have fruit sellers nearby – don’t skip on these, the fruits are all local and absolutely mouth-watering.
Both beaches are great, but maybe the NE one is a bit less crowded. It has only one swing and it’s inside the water, so you can have a bit of fun while there.
The West bikini beach on the other hand (Sunset guest beach) has a few palm tree swings PLUS another water swing, how cool is that? It’s a lot more crowded and if you want to get a sunbed – go waaay early in the morning.
4. Snorkel with the turtles
I was very surprised to find out that Thoddoo has a few sea turtles at its Sunset guest beach. We did bring our own snorkeling gear (even though you can rent it from your hotel, usually at around $5 a day), so we went snorkeling around the island every day. Almost every time we went snorkeling at this Maldivian beach, we saw 2 or 3 different turtles! The corals over there are not super impressive, but there were lots of friendly fish.
On the other hand, if you snorkel at the Northeast beach (“I love Thoddoo” beach), you might not spot a turtle, but there are lots of lovely corals around. Both are worth checking out – for free if you have your own gear. While at the Northeast beach, don’t try to go over the dam on your own. Try asking a boat captain at the nearby port and they’ll gladly take you for a few dollars. The marine life and corals after the dam are absolutely gorgeous – we even saw reef sharks roaming around. However, the current is strong and it’s very deep (as it’s the edge of the reef), so a boat is absolutely necessary.
5. Check out the mosque
The main mosque in Thoddoo is one of the most impressive sights. It’s located right at the center of the island, so it’s very easy to find. There are 3 mosques in total, the largest one is called “Masjid Al-Aisha”, here’s the exact Google location. In addition, there are a few restaurants and a supermarket right nearby – very convenient.
6. Bike around the island
Exploring the island by bike is definitely one of the most popular ways. You can usually rent a bike from your hotel for only $5 per day – it’s really worth it for at least a couple of days. Do remember to do this early in the morning or late afternoon, so you can avoid the scourging midday sun. Going full circle around Thoddoo will take you around 15 minutes by bike, depending on your speed, that is.
7. Hop on one of the 5 swings
As I mentioned above, there are a few different swings around Thoddoo island. The Northeast beach (“I love Thoddoo”) has only one swing with two seats – inside the water, for the ultimate fun!
The West bikini beach (“Sunset guest beach”) has one in the water as well, but it also has a few dreamy ones on palm trees. These will definitely make for the perfect instagram sunset shot.
8. Watch the sunset
As the Maldives are islands near the Equator, they almost always offer gorgeous sunsets. Ahem, not just gorgeous – probably the most gorgeous sunsets you’ll experience in your life. The sunset is usually around 6 pm, but make sure to go much earlier to reserve a spot at one of the swings or just a very nice place to enjoy it.
Yearning for another gorgeous island in the Maldives? Visit Maafushi island and explore even more of this beautiful country!
9. Befriend the local wildlife
Besides the birds, there are two main species that will surprise you. First off, the numerous cute crabs on the beach – they are absolutely adorable and their sizes at this island range from 1-2 cm to 10-15 cm! Be careful not to step on them when walking around the beach, especially at night.
Secondly, you’ll be surprised to see the size of the fruit bats. As Thoddoo is a farming island, there are lots and lots of huge bats around. At first we thought they were birds, but a second closer look left us in awe. Don’t worry, though, they’re absolutely harmless to humans. They might flight nearby at night, but they won’t even nick you.
10. Taste the local fruits and veggies
The local vendors of fruits are usually located near the two most popular beaches. All fruits are locally grown and are absolutely delicious. The vendors will even do cute demonstration before handing you the fruits. Watermelon, melon, maracuya, papaya, and of course the local delicious bananas – you won’t regret trying any of these.
11. Try the local restaurants at Thoddoo island
There are a few different restaurants around the island, but here are the ones we tried:
- Maracuya – they have free delivery (you can order via WhatsApp to the beach!). They have the best rice on the island and the prices are quite affordable – $10 for 2 portions of rice
- Astro – a bit more high-end restaurant, where you can try the best pizza. However, try to go a bit before 7 pm, as it tends to get very full very quickly.
- Black anchor – these guys are accepting card payments, which is rare for the Maldives. They also make the best Ceasar’s salad in Thoddoo (and I’m very picky!).
12. Go on a day trip from Thoddoo
There are many different options when it comes to day trips from Thoddoo. Usually not all options are available every day, but most agencies have boards where you can see what the next day will offer. You can find a few different agencies around the island (and you can always ask your hotel OR just a boat captain at the port – probably your cheapest option), we chose Relax trips – near hotel Relax. There are manta ray points, gorgeous reefs – as well as one of the largest in the Maldives, a shipwreck and many other surprises nearby!
Here are a few of the usual day trips:
- Full-day trip (3 snorkel points + lunch and sandbank)
- Half-day trip (2 snorkel points)
- Whale shark trip (it’s rare and takes many hours, but sometimes available)
- Resort island visit – Different resort islands you can visit
- Dolphin watching at sunset
The prices are alright for what they offer – starting at $50-$80 for day trips and about $100-$120 for full day resort visits with food and drinks included.
P.S. There’s a manta ray point right at Thoddoo island! Ask a boat captain to take you there very early in the morning (7 am) and you’re in for a treat. The manta point that Relax trips took us to was great, but it was extremely deep and they sometimes went low below us, while the Thoddoo point was more shallow and the overall experience was better.
P.S. 2 Don’t forget your seasickness medication, especially for full day trips. In case you’ve forgotten, go to the pharmacy and buy some, you won’t regret it.
13. Respect nature and don’t leave trash behind
- Remember, leave only footsteps behind you! When at the beach or even in the ocean, take all your trash with you. I’ve seen a few plastic bags in the ocean around the island and this is definitely not a pretty sight.
- Protect the local wildlife – don’t try to touch the cute crabs and don’t even thing about trying to catch a sea turtle. Trust me, it’s for your own good. Just enjoy watching them and let them leave in peace.
- Don’t step on the corals – they take decades to grow, even one touch can ruin nature’s hard work.
Tips for a first-time visit in the Maldives
- Wear clothes covering your knees, shoulders and stay away from cleavage. The Maldivians are muslim, so please respect their culture and rules.
- Take very high-protection sunscreen with you – but make sure it’s marine friendly! Search for brands that take note not to use toxic chemicals and for such that are specifically non-toxic to marine life. You can also use a white T-shirt while swimming in order to protect your back.
- Don’t try to take corals or shells as souvenirs – it’s forbidden. Your checked-in luggage will be searched on the way out of the islands (yep, it goes through scanners), so you’ll have to throw out every shell or coral that you’ve taken. You might even face a fine, so don’t risk it!
For even more ideas, check out these top tips before visiting the Maldives.